Monday, February 15, 2021


 NOTE: Okay folks, if you haven't been around long enough here to know what a "Randomonium" post is, then here is the deal. I ramble, rant, and randomly moan about all things cycling in one, incohesive, bizarre post. "Randomonium", okay?

ColdWork M-Pact Glove (Image courtesy of Mechanix Wear)

 Got Cold Hands?

I have heard a lot of riders complain over the years about perpetually cold hands and that things like fat biking are not in the cards for them because they cannot keep their paws warm. Well, some technology in gloves I came across could be cross-purposed and maybe this problem could be rectified for some of you.

How does heated, waterproof, temperature regulated sound to ya? Pretty far out, right? Well, thanks to some rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries and some great materials, these ColdWork M-Pact Gloves might just get you out there riding in the cold. Or hiking, Or whatever..... But of course, they ain't cheap. Two hunnert n fiddy to be exact. 

But if you really want warm hands and to be able to enjoy the outdoors in Winter? Maybe this is your ticket out there. Me? I don't have any issues as long as I am working. Heck, I can take my gloves off for several minutes at a windchill temp of -30°F with no issues. Again- as long as I am working. Shoveling lately has provided the 'work', but if I am fat biking hard, the same applies. So, something like these gloves would be lost on me unless I was going out on a long, multi-hour fat bike ride where I might end up on some easier terrain for long periods. Of course, there are pogies, so......

I just thought it was an interesting product that is very cross-compatible with Winter cycling. Maybe there are cycling gloves that have similar features? I am not aware of them if they exist. It wouldn't surprise me if there  is nothing like this aimed at cycling because gloves seem to be one of the least developed areas of cycling apparel out there. Why this is, I have no clue, but we seem to spend a lot of money on shoes, helmets, bibs/shorts, jerseys, and the like, but gloves seem stuck in the dark ages of cycling. 

WTB Proterra Wheel. (Image courtesy of WTB)

Review Season Is Coming:

February 2021 has brought some of the most brutal cold we've seen in years. Combined with any winds, the snow, and the ice, you can imagine that riding out in the country on gravel at this point isn't going to amount to anything but practicing your survival mode. Sure, you can do it, and some people are, but it is borderline insane, and I mean that with as little hyperbole as humanly possible. It is just plain stupid out there when the wind chills are in the -30 range. 

But before long the tilt of the Earth and that relationship to the Sun will chase this Arctic air away and Spring will begin to appear. It will come eventually, albeit possibly very slightly, and then "Review Season" for me will be kicking in. Frankly, I cannot wait. 

The situation with regard to supply and demand in the cycling industry was bound to have some impact on what I do here with regard to reviewing stuff. I was quite prepared to be idle in that area of my life. I had already made peace with the idea that little to nothing might show up at this season. However; it appears that I will be mistaken on that, at least in the short term. I have already received a couple of things, and more is on the way, if tracking numbers are something to put your faith in. It looks as though things are going to kick off rather like a normal year this year. 

I'll have a rain jacket to get out in the wet weather with. I've got a bunch of lubricant, grease, and cleaning products to use. I'll have a new set of budget priced wheels, a very "alt" handle bar to check out, and some bar tape to go with that. I don't have anything else on my radar after these things, but if this is any indication, I may be surprised to find 2021 busier than last year was. Anyway, first things first. I have the aforementioned items coming in, and that is all I truly know. This is all supposedly going to come together in the coming weeks and if the weather turns in that time, I can hit the ground running. We'll see. 

Where Am I Going?

The aforementioned 'review season' begs the question: "Where are you going to be riding this year, GT"? And that is a great question. I've been giving some thought to this lately. The answer is......complicated. 

Much of what I do will have to be local, given my shop job and limited time off. So, thanks to the gravel road challenge I accomplished last year, I now have a new menu of routes to do which should keep boredom down compared to previous years. Locally I have several routes that I have found that I want to tweak out into new ways of connecting things. Some areas deserve to be ridden several times again, while there are some places in Black Hawk County which will likely never see me or my tire tracks again. 

There are a few places I can add in which are a short car trip away, for example Traer, Iowa, which opens up a huge amount of very challenging hills and many Level B Maintenance roads. I also want to get over to the East of where I live, but those will have to be weekend trips and special, since the localities I have in mind are an hour or more away by car from here. The same applies for routes I want to ride in other places in Iowa. An example of this would be Grinnell, where I have two routes already laid out and waiting for me to tackle. 

So, as you may have noticed, there are no events in my plans. That's right, I'm not planning on any events. Gravel Worlds.....maybe. Basically, I am taking 2021 as a 2020 v2. And quite frankly, I am perfectly fine with that. For many reasons........ But I am not getting into all of that here. The point is, I will be doing a lot of solo riding again in 2021 and I am excited to get back out there. My riding will be free, won't require reservations about this pandemic, and I can go where I want to go. There won't be the pressures of an event weekend. Just me and my bike and a gravel road. 

Unbound Gravel, and other events, are still planning on being held in 2021.
And Speaking Of Events.....

I've been trying to find a good way to deal with the fact that certain events seem hell bent for leather to have people come and ride while others are taking the much more prudent approach and just cancelling again for 2021. I've done a lot of looking into this, and I've tried to make sense of why any event would try to be having a gathering when others happening at the same time are postponing till Fall or outright cancelling. What gives? Why such inconsistency?

RAGBRAI is pushing through its event despite a new virus mutation which is said to be much more transmissible being detected in the US. Same for Unbound Gravel which is supposedly still happening the first weekend of June. Fall? Maybe then, but Summer? Yeesh! This seems rather inconsistent with what experts are saying which is that we need to continue social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitary practices all throughout the Summer. Vaccines are out there, yes, but do your research- they are not a "get out of jail free card". So, all this planning on going ahead by these "big time" events seems really out of touch with what experts are saying reality will be. If these events cancelled in 2020, why are they still being planned for 2021? 

And as I have said, I've researched this and looked into who is behind these events in question. Why would they be motivated to basically look the other way and act as though "we'll be alright here" when there is no clear evidence that anything will be any different than last year? I think this has to do with money, staying in business, and cutting losses. That's my take. 

Look at these big events and you'll find multi-million dollar corporations behind them, and in many cases, sponsors that are big corporate concerns as well. They have boards to answer to, and losing money because you are not generating revenue is not sitting well with them. Having the events in any fashion possible is therefore going to be preferable to having zero income and losing money. 

But what about smaller events? Yes, many are planning on happening as well. But in these cases, many times the events are small enough that preventing contact, and that with locals, can be achieved with ease. We're not talking thousands of participants, like we are in the cases of RAGBRAI, or Unbound Gravel and the like. And as well, many of these smaller events are cancelling.

So, it comes down to the riders then. In my opinion, you are going to have to make a decision to partake in the generation of income, pandemic be damned, or do something different, like maybe not partake in the generation of income for a corporation, because of a damn pandemic. Some are saying this is overblown, it isn't a big deal, we're all outside riding, don't worry...... Well, some have said that since a year ago. Look where we are now.......

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